15 December 2001, Gorillaz, The Academy, Bristol, UK

reviewed by Maryse Laloux

The setlist at Bristol Academy was more or less similar to that of the Forum show (Sept 28), that is M1A1, Tomorrow Comes Today, Slow Country, 5/4, Starshine, Man Research, Sound Check Gravity, Re Hash, Clint Eastwood, Rock the House, Dracula, 19-2000, Punk, Tomorrow Comes Today, Clint Eastwood. Most the visuals were slightly different though and in my opinion greatly improved. More animated images, some never seen before, more colors, also more silhouettes of the musicians. Oh, if only Damon would stand still when the camera focuses on him instead of dancing up and down the stage. But still we could make out enough of him to notice that his hair is growing, ok... not a mullet yet but well... some hair on his head.

There were no interludes this time. Honestly Russell and Noodle are better at playing their instruments than at entertaining the audience! So the whole set was smoother, more rounded-up and on the whole more efficient. Besides we were regularly reminded of the basic reason why we were there as the interludes had been replaced with still images of Afghanistan: shots of buildings in ruins, bones on dried-up soil, chilling scenes indeed.

Damon Albarn looked and sounded like he was really happy to be back on stage. Oh, I tell you, the guy was on top form! Imagine Damon at his best on Popscene, Advert and There's No Other Way and you'll get the picture... an hyper-active, ultra-generous, and very communicative singer. He interacted with the audience much more at Bristol Academy than at the 2 Gorillaz shows I had been to before, urging us to sing the Clint Eastwood lyrics during the encore while pointing his microphone at us and bashing the screen with it and then talking as the show was coming to an end.

That Gorillaz concert reminded my friend Virginie and me of how much we love to hear & watch Damon at his best and we are already looking forward to the next Damon performance... which is most likely to be at a Blur gig rather than a Gorillaz show. In the last Blur Fan Club magazine Damon explained how frustrating it is "not being able to communicate with the audience physically" and how much he misses playing live. During the encores it seemed to me that Damon was dying to come through the screen and stage-dive into the audience! Oh, I have that feeling that next time Damon can interact directly with his audience, it's gonna be something...!!!! :-)

Maryse (Two's A Crowd)

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